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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2009 Jul;69(1):62-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2009.00685.x. Epub 2009 May 22.

In vitro antagonists of Rhizoctonia solani tested on lettuce: rhizosphere competence, biocontrol efficiency and rhizosphere microbial community response.

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Julius Kühn-Institut - Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants (JKI), D-38104 Braunschweig, Germany.


The rhizosphere competence of 15 in vitro antagonists of Rhizoctonia solani was determined 4 weeks after sowing inoculated lettuce seeds into nonsterile soil. Based on the colonization ability determined by selective plating, eight strains were selected for growth chamber experiments to determine their efficacy in controlling bottom rot caused by R. solani on lettuce. Although in the first experiment all antagonists colonized the rhizosphere of lettuce with CFU counts above 2 x 10(6) g(-1) of root fresh weight, only four isolates significantly reduced disease severity. In subsequent experiments involving these four antagonists, only Pseudomonas jessenii RU47 showed effective and consistent disease suppression. Plate counts and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) fingerprints of Pseudomonas-specific gacA genes amplified from total community DNA confirmed that RU47 established as the dominant Pseudomonas population in the rhizosphere of inoculated lettuce plants. Furthermore, the DGGE fingerprint revealed that R. solani AG1-IB inoculation severely affected the bacterial and fungal community structure in the rhizosphere of lettuce and that these effects were much less pronounced in the presence of RU47. Although the exact mechanism of antagonistic activity and the ecology of RU47 remain to be further explored, our results suggest that RU47 is a promising agent to control bottom rot of lettuce.

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